In 1880, the built-up northern ridge around lake Naini collapsed after heavy rain, killing more than 150 people. The area beneath the landfall has been turned into ‘The Flats’ and is now used as a cricket and sports pitch. It is also home to the Town Hall and a mosque.
These 2 images are from the Littledale India Collection held in the Royal Commonwealth Collection of the University Library, Cambridge. The first is estimated to be photographed in 1910 after the vegetation is grown back and the flats having been built on. The second is certainly shot by Samuel Bourne shortly after the landslide in 1880.
As urban pressures have continued, the vulnerable hillside has gradually been built up for residential and tourist housing. The risk of landslides in the Himalayas remains high, especially during the monsoon months, with many of the town’s poorest residents building homes on the most eroded and unstable slopes. This image shot in 2017 by Toby Smith clearly shows the high density of housing on a poor quality foundation. The Himalayas have also experienced major earthquakes in recent years, which remain a significant risk to life and property in this region.